Outdoors blog

Idaho sets rules for falconers to take wild peregrines

Peregrine falcon. (File)
Peregrine falcon. (File)

WILDLIFE -- Idaho will allow up to two peregrine falcons a year to be taken from the wild by selected falconers under rules adopted by the state Fish and Game Commission Tuesday.

Rules allow the take of nestling or juvenile wild peregrine falcons during open seasons from 2013 through 2015. The capture season runs May 1-Aug. 31.

Read on for more details and history.

Peregrine falcons have been used in falconry for more than 3,000 years, beginning with nomads in central Asia. Captured wild migratory peregrines were used regularly by North American falconers from 1938 to 1970 when the species was added to the federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants.

A successful recovery program was aided, in collaboration with Boise’s Peregrine Fund, Fish and Game, and federal agencies, by the effort and knowledge of falconers through a technique called “hacking,” the release of a captive-bred bird from a special cage at the top of a tower or cliff ledge.

That program helped bringback the peregrine. The most recent three-year intensive statewide survey of peregrines in Idaho, conducted in 2012, identified 51 known territories, 45 of which were monitored and 26 found to be occupied. Twenty pairs successfully fledged 46 young.

The peregrine was removed from the endangered species list in 1999. Until 2004, nearly all peregrines used for falconry in the United States were captive-bred from the offspring of birds captured before the Endangered Species Act was enacted.

Capture permits will be allocated by random drawing. No more than two permits will be issued annually. One is a statewide permit for either a nestling or juvenile bird, and the other is limited to Lemhi and Custer counties for nestling take only, or a juvenile bird statewide.

Idaho resident falconers with a master class license may apply for either permit, but not both, along with a $6.25 nonrefundable application fee. The application period is March 15 – April 15. Successful applicants will be notified by April 25. Successful permit holders must wait two years before applying for another capture permit.

The rules for capturing peregrines in Idaho for falconry purposes will be available on the Fish and Game website.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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